Questions for LGBTQ Worldmaking
Edited By Dustin Bradley Goltz and Jason Zingsheim
20. Breaking Silence
I’m fascinated by the way decorum, as a term, operates in this dialogue. Seemingly equated with discipline and bearing a clearly negative connotation, decorum, as figured here, works in some of these passages to constrain and undermine queer identity and authenticity. As I listen to the conversation, to stories where everyone seems to have come out into a world where gay and lesbian people were always already visible (in some form), where women were always already visible, I cannot help but reflect on the way our notions of decorum are inflected generationally.
Decorum, a term with Latin roots, considers the appropriateness of style to subject. The earliest discussions of decorum pertained to art and oratory more than proper behavior. Classical rhetoricians such as Aristotle analyzed speeches, poetry and theatre according to the degree of harmony between subject, style, and occasion. Rhetoricians today continue to talk about decorum as a term for the consideration of how the content of a work is structured in relationship to the form, the occasion, the goals, etc.
That notion of decorum strikes me as quite a bit loftier and perhaps more worthwhile than what, in this conversation, appears at times as a notion of the rules of decorum inscribing a petty bourgeois or even dishonest concern with controlling any eruptions of a truth that would make queer lives visible. Surely notions of decorum for LGBTQ people have been complicated by the notion that to appear...
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